Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Days Were Merry & Bright!

Merry Christmas from Queen Ketchup!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

We got back yesterday from 5 nights in St. Louis with my family.  It was such a great week!  Five of our family members from Las Vegas came to town, so we had a "good old fashioned family Christmas" (can you name that movie??).

It was so nice to arrive at my mom's house because it was intensely decorated for the holiday (which was a welcome contrast to ours).  They did a lot of St. Louis-y Christmas things before we arrived (since Bates' nap sched and 7pm bedtime make it a little difficult to get out), but while we were there we went down to the Botanical Gardens one day to see the Christmas trains and wreaths.  And we went another day to the Butterfly House, which Bates loved!

Other than that, it was a lot of hanging out time.  Games were played, movies were watched, and food was eaten.  Oh the food.  I could not eat until next week and still probably function pretty well because the calories consumed in those 6 days could carry me through.  (But don't worry, we came home with a container of Christmas cookies and a ton of other food [including a whole casserole.])

Other highlights: I got to see two of my best guy friends from high school (one who I haven't seen in probably 5 years).  I got to see my good friend Ali, her husband, and their 17 month old baby boy.  And Jonathan and I had dinner with Sarah and her boyfriend at a cool restaurant in Webster Groves.  We also went to see a movie one night while my mom babysat (Silver Linings Playbook - highly recommend).

Overall it was a good trip.  We didn't get snow on Christmas day, but there was a little bit later in the week so Bates got his first glimpse.  Santa was very kind to everyone (bringing me a "B" charm necklace, an ear warmer headband, a dress, and a scarf).  I was worried Bates would get too many things, but it ended up fine.  He got a lot of clothes and books, which is great (I was worried he would get hundreds of new toys and not really understand/fully appreciate them).

I hope your holiday was filled with love and family!  (And food.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Busy Up In Here

I wouldn't say I'm overwhelmed with Christmas-related stuff, but this week has been ridiculously busy.

Side Note: Maybe I should be overwhelmed with Christmas stuff?  I haven't wrapped a single present; I still haven't bought some presents (craaaaap); and my child still has not seen Santa.  But there's time, right?

We've been doing fun stuff, though!  Monday night was my book club's annual Christmas dinner/book exchange.  Everyone brings a wrapped book and we do a dirty Santa draw & swap.  The first book I picked up was The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian.  But it was stolen by Meagan, so the next one I opened was The Typist by Michael Knight.  I'm excited to read it.  Apparently the author went to the same high school as Elizabeth and is now an English professor.

On Tuesday, Bates and I went to "storytime" and had lunch with a dear friend (and her 6-month old) who just moved back to town.  We went to storytime again today and it was packed!  And I saw quite a few people I knew - so it was fun catch-up time with different folks.

On Wednesday we ran out to the pediatrician to check Bates' ears (since he's been tugging on them), but they were clear.  He's most likely been tugging because he has 3 new teeth that are swollen and about to pop out.  Then in the afternoon I dropped Bates at my in-law's and headed to get my hair cut and run some errands.  When I got to their house to drop him off, they weren't home.  As soon as I opened their door, the alarm started beeping, and since they don't usually set the alarm, I didn't know the code.  It was this comedy of errors as I ran back out to my car to get my cell phone, tried to get them on the line to get the code, tried to calm Bates down once the alarm started going off (but ended up just putting him on the front porch outside while I ran to turn it off [which freaked him out even more]), etc etc...  I finally turned it off and got Bates to calm down.  We called ADT and they weren't sending the police because I'd turned it off in time.  But suffice, it was a less-than-relaxing start to my afternoon of alone time.  My hair cut was nice, though.  I never used to think anything of a trip to the salon, but now it's nice chitchat time and nice relaxing time while I sit and wait for the color to process.

Tomorrow morning we're taking Hank to get a bath and haircut before the holiday.  And I think tomorrow afternoon (Friday) we're going to try to see Santa.  And hopefully I can get a couple more Christmas presents purchased.  And maybe I can even make it out to the Baby Gap to return/switch sizes of a few things bought for Bates.  That might be pushing it, but we'll see.

Where are you guys with all your Christmas stuff - is everything bought, wrapped, and under the tree?  Or are you taking an approach similar to mine?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One More Point for Whole Foods

I had a wonderful experience with a return at our local Whole Foods back in January.  You should read the account of it if you haven't - it was a store going above and beyond what many grocery stores would do, I think.

Well, Bates and I were at Whole Foods earlier tonight.  He was in his Ergo (a baby carrier where he faces towards me) and was being really silly.  He was putting his hands in my mouth and also trying to eat my necklace.  I attempted to be stern with "no" when he grabbed my necklace, but you can imagine how well a 9 month old listens and how "stern" I am with my sweet baby boy.

Anyway, we walked into the section with all the prepared foods behind a counter.  It's a sort of narrow area because it has the prepared foods on one side and a cooled aisle on the other.  It was packed with people (probably because it was 5pm and they were picking up dinner).  All of a sudden, Bates yanked on my necklace and it snapped!  It was a longish necklace with big, chunky beads - so beads flew everywhere.  Because there were so many people around, and because there were so many big beads, it sort of caused a commotion.  People were trying to gather the beads to give to me or were trying to move them out of the way (so no one would slip on one).  I had a cart of food and the baby in the carrier, so I wasn't really able to do much in terms of gathering them up.

I quickly announced, "it's gone - I can't fix it" because a lot of people were trying to get the beads to give me.  I had a bunch of beads in both hands and was trying to maneuver myself and my cart to the garbage can down in the bakery section.  A man in Whole Foods clothes came up to me and said, "here, give me all the beads and I'll put them in a bag for you."  I thanked him but said I was just on my way to the trash can.  He offered to take them to the trash for me.

All of this was so nice.  It's actually pretty incredible how much strangers will help you when you have a baby with you.  So I was waiting in the long checkout line later and the same man in the Whole Foods gear came up to me.  He had a beaded necklace in his hand (from the clothing/jewelry section of our store) and said, "I'm not sure if this is your style, but you need a new necklace now."  The man gave me a new necklace!  It's short and has tiny colorful beads with some big ones spaced around it.  I mean, how nice was that??

I guess you never really know what will happen until you're in a certain situation, but I feel pretty confident that the people at Midtown Kroger would not be so helpful if this had happened there.  One more point for Whole Foods.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Hulk Baby

If you don't have kids, you've maybe never heard of a "growth spurt."  Or maybe you have?  Now that they are on my brain because of Bates, it's hard to imagine anyone hasn't heard of them.  But when he was born, I never had.  A few weeks into Bates' life he was sleeping a ton and my mom said, "it must be a growth spurt."  I googled this unknown term and, in fact, he probably was going through one.  Basically for the first couple years of life (but mostly in the 1st year) kids go through periods of a few days when they eat a ton and sleep a ton and then dramatically grow.  The timing of growth spurts is pretty universal for every kid.

When Bates has gone through previous ones, it's been noticeable in his eating and sleeping schedule, but I've never seen the dramatic growth.  In the past he'd maybe bump up to the next pound if he had been hovering near one, but nothing crazy.

Well, 9 months is the timing of one of the growth spurts.  I noticed he was taking longer naps during this one, but I only noticed a small increase in his eating.  But then?  A week later, he was huge!  He wore a pair of hand-me-down overalls on Thanksgiving and when I put them on him the next week?  They were too small!  Like, 3 inches too short.  Last night all his size 9 month pajamas were dirty so we put him in some 6 month ones and he looked like the Hulk.  They were skin tight and so short that he couldn't really straighten his legs all the way.

At Bates' 6-month check up, we were concerned about his weight gain: he'd pretty consistently been in the 30ish% for weight (80% for height), but at the 6-month mark his weight had dropped into the 7th%.  We thought (and hoped) it was related to bad reflux.  The doctor suggested we put him on reflux medicine but I told her I wanted to wait to see his growth at the next check.

A couple weeks after his 6-month check up, basically overnight, he stopped spitting up.  Like 100% stopped.  (The doctor later told me that the muscle that keeps food down can tighten and thus end the reflux.)  Just a quick note: I'm so glad we didn't put him on medicine!  When the muscle tightened, we would've just assumed the medicine had started working and who knows how long we would've left him on it unnecessarily.

Anyway - the reason I say all this is because when we went for his 9-month check up, his weight had moved into the 40th%!  The highest it has ever been!  And actually, I'm sort of curious if it's even higher now, because his Hulk-like growing didn't happen until the week after his doctor's appointment. It's so funny what these little babies do in their first year.  I love my little hulk!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Card

We've never sent Christmas cards before.  I've thought about it every year, but every year decided the cost and time weren't worth it until we had kids.

Well, we have a kid now.  And it dawned on me a couple days ago that Christmas is right around the corner.  So considering the time it takes to have the cards made, sent to us, addressed, and then sent out, I went into panic mode and told Jonathan we needed to take a picture NOW.

I was on a walk through our neighborhood the other day and noticed our friends Jonathan & Patrick (who just bought a beautiful house a few blocks away) had tons of Christmas decorations up.  So we asked them if we could borrow their tree to take a family picture.  We didn't realize we were also asking to borrow their awesome camera/photography skills, but they were more than happy to help.

Bates has always been a little overwhelmed around them (probably because they are loud and energetic, which they would self-admit [so don't think I'm talking badly about our friends]).  But Jonathan and I wondered how the babe would do in our picture since he tends to get a "stone face" when overwhelmed in new situations.

After about 10 pictures with a stone face similar to this (taken at Halloween)...
...we tried a new tactic.  (Ie, Patrick would jump in making funny sounds while waving a toy and when Bates would start to smile, he'd jump out.)  It worked and we got a good shot.  I'll share it on the blog after the holidays.

Once we got home, I jumped on the internet trying to find the best deal on cards.  I had been saving coupons for different picture card websites for the past month.  Our four options were: Minted, Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Card Store.  I wanted a cardstock card with room for one picture.  I knew I could find a cute design on any of the sites, so I was searching for the best deal.

The prices were pretty similar except for Card Store.  In fact, Card Store cost almost $100 less than the other sites.  Some of the details were ambiguous (like what type of paper they used to print the picture), so I decided to skip them (when a deal seems too good to be true...).  The winner in the end was Tiny Prints.  I'm so happy with the way the proof looked on the site - hopefully it will look good in person, too!

I feel so proud of myself for finally making this happen!  I can't wait to get them in the mail!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Blog Features!

I finally got around to filling out all the little tabs at the top of my blog's homepage ("Meet Jackie," "Pregnancy," etc.) - so check them out!

We're off to church and then possibly to visit a certain man in a big red suit.  We'll see.  Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Have you guys fully jumped on the holiday bandwagon this year?  Decorated your house?  Bought all your presents yet?

I've not really tackled any of this.  In fact, there's still a pumpkin on my front porch and two Halloween lanterns.  Ooops.

Initially, I didn't want to celebrate Christmas too early (ie, right after early Thanksgiving).  I told myself I wouldn't listen to holiday tunes or decorate until December 1st.  But then that day came and went and it just didn't feel right: it was 70 degrees outside and all the Fall colors were still bright.  Now it's December 7th and I have no decorations up and still have that pesky pumpkin lingering on my porch (because it hasn't moved itself to the trash).

So I think at this point, we won't decorate our house.  On one hand, this is sort of sad.  It's Bates' first Christmas and he'd probably love looking at the lights on the tree.  But on the other hand he'd also love trying to eat the tree/lights and it takes forever to bring the tree out of the attic, set it up, and decorate it.  Then it all has to be put away after the holidays.  Bah humbug.

We have started listening to Christmas music, though.  So there's that.  Our fancy cable has a channel of it, I have a holiday station on Pandora, and soft rock 104.5 has all-Christmas-all-the-time until the 25th. And we plan on taking Bates to meet Santa at some point.  And we're lighting the advent candle at our church next weekend, so that's fun.

On the present-front, we're lagging a little bit.  We've bought a couple, but since we buy presents for about 15 family members not including ourselves (holy moly!), we have quite a way to go.  Here's an interesting question for the masses: do you think we should buy Bates Christmas presents?  Of course the instinctual response is "yes - of course."  But then really think about it...  He doesn't understand what's going on; when we give him too many new toys at once, he gets overwhelmed; we just got a TON of new toys from Jonathan's sister; and he has very generous family members who will buy him a lot of stuff.  Also, his 1-year birthday is at the end of February.  Thoughts?  And for parents out there, any present ideas for a 10-12 month old?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to remove that pumpkin from the porch before it rots.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Relaxation Station

This is a little shout out to Claire (not sure if she still reads the blog anymore) - but yesterday I went and got an hour-long massage thanks to her!

Right after I had Bates, she sent me a giftcard for one (since she's incredibly thoughtful and knew I would need it).  I hadn't used it yet, though, because I'm sort of weird about using stuff like that.  I want to wait to use it until the absolute perfect time (and of course, when you're thinking that way, there's never a perfect time).

But when my mother in law called me on Monday and said she wanted to hang out with Bates sometime this week, I knew my "perfect" time had arrived.  (I mean, what better necessitates a massage than running a half marathon?)

And oh my gosh you guys, it was so nice!  Just generally it was nice to have an hour of alone time completely devoted to relaxation and pampering.  But she really got to business with some of my sore muscles.  At the end, she said she could tell my leg muscles had been through a lot.

I left the salon feeling refreshed and relaxed - so thanks Clairee!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Am I Doing??

Ugh - you guys - I just wrote a whole blog post on L'Oreal BB Cream.  And then I read it back to myself and thought, "seriously?"  It just sounded so stupid.  And it's so incredibly inconsequential to my life.

But that's sort of the problem with my blogging at the moment.  There are things I'd like to talk about (L'Oreal BB Cream, for example), but since I only find time once maybe twice a week to write posts, makeup doesn't seem like it should be worthy of one.

And I'm also in this sort of weird spot where I could write A LOT of posts on: my kid, being a parent, stuff babies do, Bates' sleeping/eating/milking/whatever schedule, etc., but I don't want this blog to be borrrrrrring for the readers who aren't into kid stuff.  But at the same time, that's what's going on in the majority of my life right now.  And sometimes, there isn't much to say in one given day.  It might seem terribly boring to some - but I love it.

So who knows.  Maybe I need to figure out if this blog is more for me or for my readers.  Because when it initially started, it was a way to get myself writing everyday.  Maybe it's time to get back to that, even if it's mundane mommy stuff...

(And if anyone is interested, this L'Oreal BB Cream...
Source: http://www.lorealparisusa.com/

...is pretty awes.  I like to wear a little bit of makeup everyday and usually wear some foundation to even out redness.  This is basically a tinted moisturizer, which is exactly the amount of coverage I'm looking for.  I bought the lightest color they have and it looks great.  Highly recommend if you just need light coverage.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Half Marathon Monday: Race Recap!

I can cross an item off my life bucket list: complete a half marathon!  Overall I'm really happy about my whole race experience!

13.1 miles; 2 hours and 17 minutes, which averaged 10:30/mile.

I don't really know where to begin with my recap.  Even though it was only Saturday, I already feel like the whole experience is a little hazy in my mind.

First off, the weather was a pre-race concern (ie, it was going to be too hot).  But in actuality, it was fine.  I mean, a little colder would have been better.  But it never felt too hot and the sun never felt like it was barreling down on me.  And on the positive side, we didn't get that cold air lung thing that sometimes happens when you run in really cold temps.

Another pre-race question I had was which corral to choose for the wave start.  I could go with #9, which was a 10:30-10:54 projected pace; or #10, which was a 10:55-11:19 pace.  I had been training around the upper end of a 10 minute mile, so either would have probably been fine.  I went with 9 and think it was a good choice.  (And as it turned out, I didn't see a pacer the whole time I was running.  Thank goodness I had borrowed a Garmin from a friend and was able to see my pace that way.)

So...on race day.  After one last trip to the bathroom, Jonathan and I lined up together in corral 9 and got near the front.  It was finally our turn, a countdown from 10, and we were off!  (A minor glitch was that my Garmin had switched to auto-save mode right as we left the gates - I had to mess around with it for about 30 seconds, but no harm was done.)

The first couple miles were great.  I felt strong and fast.  In fact, I was around a 9 minute mile, sometimes faster.  I had this big question in my head: if I go this fast in the beginning, am I going to have a major crash later?  I decided to risk it.

Around mile 4, I saw Jonathan ahead.  I knew I could catch up, so I didn't take my eyes off him and finally did.  We checked in with each other, and then I was off leaving him in my dust.  The end of mile 4 went through the St. Jude campus and I started what could've turned into an uncontrollable cry if I didn't pull it together.  (Kids with cancer are really sad.  And once you have a kid of your own, kids with cancer become a million times more sad.)

I took my first Gu (with caffeine) at the 5 mile water station.

Miles 5-7 went down North Parkway.  There were 2 pretty big hills that I walked up, but other than that, no real surprises.  From about mile 7 to the end, I started taking walk breaks when I felt the need.  Miles 8 and 9 were through Overton Park.  I know at one point in there, I had to have a talk with myself because I was starting to get a little drained.  (It's hard to explain, but the drained feeling is almost more mental than it is physical.)

I took my second Gu (no caffeine) at the mile 10 water station.

I walked a fair amount between miles 10 and 12.  It was weird because on one hand, I knew I could just slow down a lot and maintain a jog until the end.  But instead of doing that, I decided to take walk breaks and run fast when I was running.  This was fine for me because I had no reservations about walking during the race - it had never been my intention to run the whole time.

By the time I got to the last mile, I told myself it was go time.  I think I might have walked a tiny bit in the beginning of the mile, but the last 3/4, I took it into high gear (or at least the highest gear I could muster up at that point).  Not to toot my own horn, but I passed a lot of people at the end.  I just kept telling myself, "it's almost done, you're almost there, it's almost done and then you can walk."  A wonderful aspect of the St. Jude marathon is that the last .5 miles are downhill and then you run into the Redbirds stadium (our minor league baseball team).

All in all, I'm not sure there's anything I would've changed about my experience.  I broke two rules of long-distance running on marathon day: 1) I wore new shoes I'd never run in before; and 2) I wore a new shirt I bought at the Expo when I picked up my race packet.  Both caused no trouble.

I think the funniest thing about the run was what I listened to in my headphones.  So as you know, I only listened to podcasts when I did my training runs.  Never music.  Before the half marathon, I tried to download some old episodes of This American Life to listen to during the event and for some reason, I couldn't get them loaded onto my iPhone (user error for).  Before the race, I figured I would listen to the one episode of This American Life I did have and then listen to a Stuff You Should Know podcast.  Then for the last 3 miles, I would listen to my "pump it up" music list.

Well, when it first started, I wanted to listen to music; the atmosphere was so fun and excited, I didn't want to go right into something serious.  And as I got into mile 2, I realized the music was working for me.  So during the whole thing, I only listened to music.  And maybe that doesn't seem all that crazy, but you have to know, I only have 15 songs loaded on my iPhone.  Since I didn't plan to listen to anything, I didn't upload more songs before the race.  And because they are completely absurd and so incredibly random, I give you my half-marathon "playlist."

Everybody Talks - The Neon Trees
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Love Me Do - The Beatles
Hey Ya - Andre 3000
All My Loving - The Beatles
I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles
Country Grammar - Nelly
Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio
Roll Over Beethoven - The Beatles
Me and the Major - Belle & Sebastian

And then the "pump it up" aspect..
F You - Cee Lo Green
Dynamite - Taio Cruz
Low - Flo Rida
Stone in Love - Journey

HA!  Gangsta's Paradise is what makes me laugh the most out of this list.  The reason I have some of these on my phone is because they are supposed to be songs whose beat corresponds with either 10-minute miles or 9-minute miles (and I had uploaded them before a 4-mile race we did a few months ago or maybe I'm just a huuuuuge Beatles fan?).

So yeah - there it is.  My first half marathon completed.  Definitely won't be my last.  I'm waiting for all the immediate soreness to g

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1/2 Marathon Mond...er...Tuesday: Weeks 7-9

I sort of fell off the blogging boat.  No surprise.  And actually, I fell off the running boat three weeks ago, as well, when The Sickness spread into our house.  So I took Week 7 off running.  Then the next week (week 8) I ran 10 miles in my long run; and this past Saturday I ran 10 miles again.

And now - the race is in four days!!

The first time I ran 10 miles, in Week 8, I had a really difficult run.  I had to walk a couple times, I felt tired the whole way, it was warm out, etc.  I finished and felt really uncomfortable about how soon the race was and how poorly that whole thing went down.

Luckily, when I ran 10 again on Saturday, it went great.  The weather was really cold, the sun was shining, I had a lot of energy - it was a good run.  I actually went a bit faster than my previous training runs, which felt good at the time, but left my muscles much more sore than previous long runs.

Overall, I'm feeling decent about the race on Saturday.  As I've said all along, I'm not looking to break any World records for half marathons.  I just want to finish.  If I have to take walking breaks, so be it.  One thing that's freaking me out is the forecast at this point, which predicts a high of 70 on Saturday (ie, waaaaaay too hot for December freaking Global Warming).  I'm also sort of freaked out generally by the logistics of the whole thing.  Stuff like when to arrive downtown, where to park, how soon to start lining up, where to pee one last time before the gun goes off.  I'm also sort of curious how I'll like the group running aspect of a big half marathon.  At this point my training has been really solitary.  And I sort of like it that way.  I'm curious how I'll respond when suddenly my alone time is shared with thousands of people.

Be thinking about me Saturday morning - send some good vibes if you think of it - I could use them!

Monday, November 26, 2012

9 Months Old!

Please excuse this deviation from "1/2 Marathon Monday" for a brief announcement:

Bates is NINE months old today!

I mean.  Wow.  Nine months seems old (respectively speaking, of course).  I remember when I first started attending mommy group (when he was about 6 weeks) and there were some 9+ month olds who seemed like little people.  At the time, Bates just seemed like a baby, but these old kids...they could sit up and crawl and talk and eat real food.  It seemed insane they had only been alive for 9 months.

But now?  My baby can sit up and crawl and talk and eat real food.  He sleeps through the night.  He takes two strong naps everyday.  He has five teeth.  He eats three meals a day.  When did this happen??

I haven't been great at monthly posts on the little guy.  (I haven't been great at blogging period, but whatev.)  But if I had to do a snapshot of the life of a 9-month old, I'd say it's somewhat hectic.  Bates started crawling about 10 days ago.  It was coming for awhile: he'd get on all fours and rock back and forth.  And then on that first day, for whatever reason, he was able to propel himself forward.  Actually, he was trying to get one of Hank's toys - that was what made him move forward.  But since then, it's been full steam ahead.  It took a couple days for it to set in, but now?  He's a pro, which is really fun for him, and sort of stressful for me (ie, constantly chasing him and trying to keep him from putting things in his mouth like cords and shoes and the dog's toys).

Ever since our 6-month doctor's appointment (the one where his weight had dropped into a low percentile), we've been trying to get him to eat a lot.  He has three meals a day of baby food and then gets puffs on his tray to feed himself.  As of a couple weeks ago, I've been giving him little pieces of "people food" to try.  He's slowly but surely learning what to do with a chunk of food in his mouth (although this afternoon I gave him some pieces of corn tortilla and he couldn't chew them enough and puked a little because they got caught in the back of his throat).  He still gets 4 bottles of breastmilk a day, too.  I need to pull out the sippy cup more, but I always forget because any time I've tried it in the past, he's been uninterested.

His "talking" in the past month or so has become more exciting for Jonathan and me because he's now babbling "dadadadada" and "mamamama."  He still hasn't assigned those words to either of us, but it's cute to hear him say them, regardless.

Overall he's such a happy little guy!  I don't know if all babies at this age are happy all the time or if we just got lucky, but he doesn't really cry unless he's hurt or we take a toy away.  In fact, we've had a massive sickness hovering over our house for a few weeks (which I keep meaning to blog about), and Bates had a double ear infection that I didn't really notice because his mood didn't change at all.  I took him to the doctor because he had a bad cough and had been waking up in the middle of the night and that's when they noticed the ears.  Just call me Mother of the Year.

One thing that's picked up in the last couple of months is a general reserved attitude when he's around new people or strangers.  Instead of being his sweet, smiley self, he becomes pretty straight faced and doesn't really crack a smile until he feels comfortable.  For Thanksgiving week, Jonathan's sister and her 3 kids were in town and the first day they were here, Bates was a little unsure.  (That quickly went away and then he was really into them.)

Life is good for us, though.  I can't believe 3/4 of my little baby's first year are done!  What an incredible 9 months it has been!

(And let's just say...I can't wait to be done breastfeeding in three months!!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Out! Go Vote!

Bates and I went last week (because Tennessee has glorious early voting), but for those of you who haven't done it yet - get out!  Cast your vote today!

I listened to a Podcast this weekend about the electoral college, and I have to say, the jury's still out (in my mind) about if the popular vote really matters.  But, I'm not willing to risk it by not voting!  :)

(Also, when you vote, you are more legit when you complain about politics.)

Go America!

Monday, November 5, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 6

Runs
M - Rest
T - Rest
W - 4 miles (treadmill)
Th - Rest
F - walk with Bates
S - 9 miles
S - walk

So Bates came down with a cold 2 weeks ago and I was pretty sure I would get it too (since we're up in each other's business all day).  I HOPED so hard that I wouldn't get it until after my 8 mile run in Week 5.  And wouldn't you know, that night, I started to get the postnasal drip.  So anyway, this past week I was sick with a cold.

When I still felt sort of crappy on Tuesday, I decided I would break my no-consecutive-day rule and run Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday went fine.  Then Wednesday night (Halloween) we had an awful night with the babe.  He wouldn't go down to sleep...for hours.  We brought him out to the family room at one point (because we didn't really know what to do) and he massively puked.  On Thursday he was still feeling sort of sick, so he actually took his afternoon nap lying across my chest (which, as you can imagine, isn't that conducive to a 4-mile run).*

Anyway, it was a bad week in running. And boy was that 9-miler difficult!  The weather was really warm (80 by the time I was done), the sun was beating down, I was running into a strong wind at one point.  It was just bad.  This was the first run where I had a hard time zoning out and listening to my podcasts.  The whole thing was really mental - I kept thinking about how much longer I had/how bad I felt/how looooong 9 miles is/etc.

But I finished.  No walking breaks.  9 slow miles.  And this run was different than my others because I "fueled" an hour in.  (If you're running for longer than an hour and a half, it's a good idea to take in some calories.)  I bought a non-caffeinated, raspberry-flavored gu packet (Cliff brand).  And I liked it!  The raspberry tasted a little like the center of a jelly donut and went down easily.  I'm not sure I noticed a difference with or without it, but I definitely didn't have any kind of crash (so maybe it prevented that??).  It was also nice to look forward to something in my run-focused brain: "in 20 minutes I can have my gu."

I followed the run with a veggie sub from Fino's and a large pasta salad.  Note to any Memphians reading this: no one needs a large pasta salad from Fino's; it was enough for 3-4 people.

Best podcast this week: Life on the 500th Floor.

*If you're curious, we aren't sure if Bates had a quick virus (although he had no fever) or if he had a reaction to the dinner we gave him.  It was a tomato-chicken-pasta dish and he'd never had tomatoes before.  And he hadn't really had a ton of gluten before, either.  I'm going to lay off tomatoes in the meantime and ask the doctor this afternoon what she thinks (since we're going to see if the cold turned into an ear infection).  Sheesh!  I'm glad we're done with germ-y daycare (a blog post coming on that soon).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New TV Shows

Are any of you watching the new show Nashville??  I am really into it!  And I have Jonathan to thank. See, I had no intention of starting another new show this season but he pointed out it seemed right up my alley.  I agreed to watch the pilot just to see...and...HOOKED!  I love Connie Britton (always Coach Taylor's wife in my mind) and I like her character on this show.  I think they've woven some pretty interesting drama into all the interlocking lives.  I'm excited to watch each week to see what happens.  And I love the music!  I told Jonathan the other day that I wish the show were already a season in so I could see each episode without waiting a week in between.  I definitely recommend catching up online with this one if you haven't watched yet (it's only a few weeks in).

We've also tried other new shows this season.

Revolution
I'm pretty into this one as well, although I worry it might be the next The Event or Terra Nova (ie - really interesting concepts that got sillier and sillier with each episode until they were finally cancelled at the end of the first season).  But so far I would say Revolution hasn't gotten sillier each week; they're pretty engaging, actually.  My #1 complaint is about the acting ability of the main girl Charlie.  But we'll see - she's sort of grown on me a little each week.  This show could be the next Lost - the concept is intriguing and has the ability to be really complex, I think.  I would recommend tuning in.

The Mindy Project
We watched this on a whim and were laughing out loud in the first episode.  It's a comedy about an OBGYN and all the drama in her life (including the other doctors and staff in her practice).  A fun watch if you need a new comedy.

Last Resort
I might be done with this.  It's the one about the US submarine that disobeyed orders to blow up Pakistan and is now basically in a standoff with the government about the whole situation.  While it does star Ben from Felicity (which gives it major bonus points), I find it slightly confusing and don't feel all that engaged with the characters or the situation.  In fact, we've only watched the first two episodes and have three more saved on our DVR.  (That might be a sign it's getting the axe from our tv lineup.)

Am I missing anything this year that's awesome?  Have you guys watched any of these shows?

Monday, October 29, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Weeks 4 & 5

Week 4
M - Rest
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - Rest
Th - 4 miles (treadmill)
F - Rest
S - 7 miles
S - walked around the zoo

Week 5
M - Rest
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - Rest
Th - 4 miles (treadmill)
F - Rest
S - 8 miles
S - Rest

I missed my week 4 post - oops!  Life has been a little crazy the past couple weeks.  Actually, with all this running in the mix, sometimes it feels like I don't have much free time.  BUT - even so - I've decided that I really, really like having a training plan to follow.  Adding a mile every week to the long runs has been so nice.

I was worried going into my 8-miler this weekend for a few reasons.  1) 8 seemed like a lot of miles.  2) I had a really, really good 7 mile run the week before; I was worried I couldn't possibly have two good runs, two weeks in a row.  3) It was cooooold out!

But it was awesome!  I had another really, really good run!  For both the 7 & 8 miles, I had great negative splits (starting around an 11-minute mile and working up to a 9:15/9:30 at the end).  My paces for both averaged out around 10:30-ish.

I talked to my marathon guru Patti about tips for drinking and fueling on the run.  Her personal plan is as follows: when running 6 miles and more, drink water every 3 miles.  When running for longer than an hour and a half, fuel with a Gu packet + water after an hour.

So on the 7 and 8 mile runs, I brought a water bottle and drank it during mile 3-4.  I'm not sure what it would feel like to not drink it, but I definitely feel fine in terms of hydration at the end (the cold weather probably helps this).  I think next week I'm going to try having a Gu packet after an hour.  I don't have much experience with Gu, so if anyone has any tips or thoughts about it, I'm all ears.

I'm not really doing as much cross training as is suggested in my training plans, but really, I'm just doing what I can do.  It's hard enough to knock out 4 miles/cool out/shower/eat during Bates' morning naps on T/Th.  I feel accomplished that I'm able to exercise 3-4 days a week.

I'm not hoping to kill any records on half marathon day.  I just want to run the majority and finish. :)

Best podcasts these two weeks: "How McDonalds Works," "This American Life: Near Death Experiences," "What if the Earth Were a Cube," and "Tidally-Locked Perpetual Darkness."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Monitor Love!

When we were registering for baby gear, finding a baby monitor was a little overwhelming.  (Actually - registering for everything was sort of tough since there are 100 different brands/types of EVERYTHING and you have to pour over recommendations and safety reviews and prices; it's a lot to take in.)  But anyway - the monitor part was tricky.

Do you go with the video monitor, which everyone loves but is EXPENSIVE?  Do you go with a normal, sound-only monitor?  Or do you go with one of the motion sensor monitors, which alert you if baby doesn't move for 20 seconds (ie, breathe)?

Our house is only one story and Bates' nursery is about 10 feet from our bedroom, so I thought getting a video monitor seemed unnecessarily expensive.  In my mind, if we needed to see him, we could just walk 10 feet to his room.  Also, I knew he would sleep in our room for awhile.  But I was also terrified of SIDS (since there's sort of a scare campaign going on with new parents about putting your kid "back to rest" and what not), so even though it was a little more expensive than the sound-only one, I wanted the motion-sensing monitor (which still cost a lot less than a video monitor).

We moved Bates into his room at 5 months and to sum things up, the motion sensor caused us so much trouble!  The alarm would go off all the time because he moved around so much in his crib (thus moving away from the sensor pad).  But when you would make the sensitivity of the pad more intense, the air conditioner was enough to trigger movement, so if he stopped breathing we wouldn't know because the wind of the A/C was telling the monitor there was movement.

We ended up turning off the sensor feature after about a week of sleepless nights from the alarm going off so much.  What this did though was make me constantly nervous he would stop breathing while asleep.  So I would go into his room to check on him multiple times a night.  And as you can imagine, this also killed my sleep.  We needed a solution and as much as I hated to buy another one, I knew the solution was a video monitor.

We went with the Summer Infant Baby Touch, which is cool because you can have multiple cameras that feed into the base unit, so if you have more than one kid, you can see them both on the same unit.  (Well, actually, it's cool for a lot of other reasons, too: good night-vision camera, easy-to-use touch screen, good sound quality that can also be muted, movable camera, zoom feature, 2-way talking [ie I can talk from the base unit to Bates in his room], etc.)

The day this came in the mail felt like Christmas, no joke, because I knew I would finally be able to sleep a whole night in my room without getting out of bed to check on the baby.  And seriously, we've had it now for almost 2 months and I still think it is one of the best pieces of baby equipment we own.  I'm soooooo happy we overlooked the price tag and decided to get it.

Here's my advice to soon-to-be parents: register for a video monitor!  You will want one, even if you don't think you need it.  And if it's on your registry, a) someone might buy it for you, or b) if no one does, you can at least get 10% off when you complete the registry.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 3

Week In Review

M - Rest
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - walk
Th - 2.75 miles (treadmill)
F - walk
S - Long Run 6 miles (sort of)
S - 3 miles (treadmill)

This was a baaaaaad week in running.  Lame.

First, my during-the-week 4-miler on Thursday was cut short because Someone Who Won't Be Named took a super short nap.

Then Saturday was just rough - that's all that can be said about it.  I coerced my friend Emily into running with me.  And while it was great to have company, I think it ultimately didn't help my run.  1) It was hot out - hotter than it has been in a few weeks.  2) We were doing a lot of chatting, which is great, but I'm not sure my endurance is ready yet to talk the whole time on a 6-mile run.  In fact, I'd say my endurance might be more at the point of "breath so heavily I might die until I can finally get to the end of the run."  3) Pacing was tricky with another person in tow.  Basically, when I start a long run, I want to be running an 11-minute+ pace (which will hopefully get faster & faster with each mile [negative splits], ideally ending around a 10:30).  Well, 11+ is slow.  And it's really hard even when it's just me to actually start out so slow because in the beginning of a run, you feel good.  In fact, I usually just stare at the Garmin to get my pace right.  With the two of us - feeling good in the beginning and excited to chat - we were faster than we should've been.  And so by the time we got to mile 3, I was feeling rough.  So we walked a lot.

I did 3 miles on Sunday instead of 2 to try to make up a little from the day before.

I don't want to be upset about Saturday, but I'm lying if I say I'm not SUPER scared for this coming long run.  7 is a big number, especially when you haven't officially tackled 6.  We shall see.  The weather report looks promising (ie, a little cooler), so hopefully if I go in really slow in the beginning, I can hold out until the end.

The best Podcasts I listened to this week: "Mother's Milk" (it is some crazy stuff!) and "Recommended Reading" from Stuff to Blow Your Mind (I got some good book recs).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Freeze Frame?

Bates is 7.5 months right now, and man oh man - is it possible for me to stop time??

This is no news flash to anyone, but it's pretty difficult when you first have a baby: the constant feeding, the lack of sleep, the crying, etc.  And it gradually gets easier and easier.  The baby starts to eat less often, sleep more, do more things for himself.  And then there's a point when it gets really good.

I think for me, the point of really good started around 6 months (maybe a week or so after).  Bates was finally (finally!!) sleeping the night, he was able to sit up on his own, he was taking two really solid naps everyday; but also, he was developing a little personality - my days were starting to feel like they'd been spent with another human who could interact with me, not just an unresponsive (but cute!) eating/pooping/sleeping machine.

And it's only gotten better from there.  He's just this sweet little baby boy who loves to play and babble and chew on things and eat his pureed food.  He's so happy all the time.  And he can be so content just sitting on his playmat with some toys.  We were at my in-law's house for lunch last weekend and we set him on the floor with a bunch of toys while we sat at the table and ate.  He was perfectly content.

It dawned on me recently, though: he's not always going to be this sweet little baby.  I'd say he's superclose (maybe a week?) to crawling, which is going to dramatically change our lives.  And then he'll be walking.  And then he'll be talking more and able to express his opinion ("NO!") about certain things.  The next thing I know, he'll be a defiant teenager telling me he hates me and ranting to his girlfriend about how lame his mom is.  Then he'll go to college and do who knows what.  And then he'll be out in the real world searching for a woman to marry and replace his mother.

Can I just freeze time right now?

Occasionally he still wakes up in the middle of the night to eat (maybe once a week?) and last night was one of those nights.  And even though it sort of sucks to have your sleep disrupted at 2:40am, I was in his room rocking him after he ate, his little body snuggled against mine emitting the smell of lavender baby shampoo, and it hit me: I won't always be able to do this.

And I know it's fun to see them get older.  I get that.  But I also want to savor it right now, because even though it might get better, it's pretty darn awesome at the moment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Living Out Of My Head

My book club read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes for our most recent meeting.  And overall, we liked it.  It was a short book about aging, relationships, memories, and the way one perceives history.  I recommend.

There was one line in the book, though, that really jumped out to me.  Note - I forgot to highlight it on my Kindle and don't really have time or desire to try to locate it now, so I'll paraphrase.  It said something like: when you're young, you dream about what your life will become and all the things you will do; when you're old, you look back and dream about what you should have done.

And this stuck with me.  When I was a little kid, there were times when I completely lived in my head.  (This could also be called "having a big imagination.")  But I used to go on solitary walks or hit tennis balls against our garage door for hours and just think.  I'd dream about what I would do "when I grew up" or I'd write multiple novels or movies in my head.  (I had friends, too, mind you.  But I also had no problem being alone.)

When I got a little older, a lot of my dreams centered around "when I get married..."  Or "when I have kids..."

Ummmm - I'm there now.  I'm married and have a child.

And on the flip side actually, now that I am married with a child, occasionally I find myself thinking, "I should've done _______ before Bates was born," or "______ would've been so much easier to accomplish before I got married."  And I'm not that old!  I can't imagine what a lifetime of "I should haves" looks like!

And so here I am now; I want to commit to at least try to get out of my head.  Instead of dreaming, I want to start doing.  And I want to stop using the excuse "now isn't a good time," because really, I'm not sure there will ever be a good time for anything.

The goal now is to figure out what that actually looks like!  What should I do to get out of my head?

Monday, October 8, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 2

Week In Review

M - Rest Day
T - 4 miles (treadmill)
W - Rest Day
Th - 4 miles (treadmill)
F - Rest Day
S Long Run - 5 miles (outside)
S - 2 mile (treadmill)

Um yeah, I didn't really intend to have 3 rest days this week.  Oops!  Both Wednesday and Friday I was going to go to yoga classes, but time just slipped away.  So that's my big plan for this coming week - I MUST cross train!

Aside from that though, this week wasn't all that dramatic.  It's odd how just a couple weeks can seriously help endurance.  Four miles was easy on Tuesday and Thursday.  And five felt a lot easier this week than it did last.

Also, we got our jog stroller!  Unfortunately it needed some work (a thorough clean and air in the tires), so we actually haven't used it yet.  But that's on the agenda for this week (assuming the weather warms up - we had a major cold front sweep through on Friday night [knocking our power out from 7-11pm, but whatev]).

The best podcasts I listened to this week were: "The Science of Prometheus," "This American Life," and "The Infant's Brain."  Loving the Podcast app!

That's about it.  Sort of a boring week in running.  But boring is good - I'll take that too "really difficult" or "injury-laden" any day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stiiiiiiiil Breastfeeding...

Before Bates was born, I knew I was going to try to breastfeed.  I guess most women at least try nowadays, given how strongly the "breast is best"campaign is forced down everyone's throat.  (Fact: I was not breastfed.  My mom didn't want to.  And I don't have a tail or a third eye or really any lingering problems because of the formula.  But I digress.)

So I was interested in breastfeeding myself for three main reasons.  1) "Breast is best," or so they say - so I figured I needed to give it a shot.  2) I wanted the weight loss element of it.  And 3) It was a lot cheaper than buying formula for a year.  And just to be completely honest, all three were weighted somewhat equally.  I could say Reason One was my main concern and the other two were just nice side effects - but that would be untrue.

And so we breastfed.  And when that didn't work out too well, I started pumping.  But I had no set amount of time in my head.  I've talked to a lot of moms who started with a goal: "I'll breastfeed for 6 months."  Or who started with a smaller goal: "I'll do it for 3 months."  Or who started with a conditional goal: "I'll do it for at least a month and re-evaluate."  But I had no thoughts like that.  And so here we are, 7 months in, and I'm still pumping away.

I think I have a goal now, though.  He'll get breastmilk for a year.  AHHHHHHH!  

At Bates' six-month check up, his weight gain was way down; he'd dropped from the 30th percentile for weight to the 7th.  The doctor surmised it was because he spit up so much.  She wanted to put him on reflux meds, but I preferred to wait until his next check up to do so if necessary.  And in the meantime, we started adding oatmeal to his breastmilk to help keep it down.

It was at this point, I think, that I decided I should probably go ahead and give him breastmilk for the year.  I figured if spitting up was such an issue, he might have a sensitive tummy.  And if he has a sensitive tummy, finding a formula that works might be tough.  Not to mention he might need the sensitive-stomach type of formula which equalled $$$$$$ in my mind.  So breastfeeding it is.  For five. more. months.  Ugh.

Now don't get me wrong, all three of my reasons for breastfeeding still apply.  And in the end, I think this is the best decision for our family.  But there are just some things about the whole process that make five. more. months. seem like a small eternity.

1) Spending so much time at the pump.  Bates certainly doesn't understand what I'm doing.  So in his mind, mommy is just sitting on the sidelines while either he and daddy play or while he plays alone in his exersaucer.

2) Sort of the same as #1, but missing out on family time because I'm sitting at the pump.  Instead of the three of us hanging out all day on the weekends, for example, it ends up being a lot of Jonathan & Bates playing while mommy pumps, and then me & Bates playing while daddy gets some alone time when I'm not pumping.  We were having a lovely Elton John piano sing-along last night (yeah - you heard me) and it had to be cut short because I needed to start pumping before we put him down for bed.

3) The schedule of it.  I have to plan my whole day around when I'll need to pump.  Every decision I make about leaving the house has to take my boobs into consideration.  It's exhausting.  And it's frustrating sometimes.  We'll be all ready to go somewhere and then it will dawn on me, "we're going to be gone for X amount of time, I last pumped at X o'clock, I need to pump before we leave."  And then our trip is postponed for 30 minutes.

4) Washing bottles and pump parts.  I try so hard not to let this bother me too much, because if I did, I think I would've gone insane already.  I have to wash all that stuff sooooo many times a day!  So many times a week!  So many times a month!  It's crazy.

5) How unpredictable it is.  Sometimes it takes a lot longer than other times.  Sometimes it takes forever for them to let down.  Sometimes I'll have 3 letdowns in a pumping session.  Sometimes they feel really full and I think it will be a quick pump, but instead it takes extra long.  Sometimes they won't feel full at all, but I end up having a huge quantity.  You just never know.

But all this to say.  It's ok.  It's worth it.  If I went without sushi for 9 months and without alcohol or caffeine for a year, I can pump for 5 measly more months, right?  Right??

Monday, October 1, 2012

1/2 Marathon Monday: Week 1

I love a good blog series!  And if that series can have some alliteration in the title?  Sold!

So allow me to introduce.....1/2 Marathon Mondays!

If you recall, I announced a few months ago that Jonathan and I signed up to run the Memphis St. Jude 1/2 Marathon on December 1.  I also mentioned my lack of current fitness in that post.  Well, fast-forward a couple months...and my fitness was still lacking.  I just couldn't get myself interested in running.

In mid-September, Jonathan and I ran a 4-mile race through the artsy neighborhood next to ours, Cooper Young.  And it was rough.  I wasn't signed up until a couple days before the event because I was unsure if I could even run 4 miles.  (Could I?  No.  I did quite a bit of walking during the race.)

So generally, in regards to this half marathon in December, I was feeling overwhelmed and uninterested in running (not the best combo).

But then!  But then I was at a Junior League meeting last week and talked to my friend Anna (who's also running the half).  I don't know what it was about our conversation, but it kicked my brain into gear: If you're going to actually run the 1/2, you need to start training NOW.

The next day she and I emailed back and forth about some training plans and I figured out a plan for myself.  I'm combining a couple different ones I found.  And while most plans call for 12-13 weeks of prep, my prep will be about 10 weeks...because that's when the race is.  Anna reminded me of something that is going to be really important during these 10 weeks, which is: slow and steady wins the race.  (Well, I guess it doesn't win the race in terms of winning the marathon, whatev.)  But basically, she pointed out that if I took my pace way down, I'd definitely be able to do the training runs. In fact, running slower during training runs is what most elite athletes do - there's actually some science behind training slower.

And after all that backstory - I now recap Week One

Long Run: Saturday - 5 miles
Other Runs: Wednesday - 4 miles; Friday - 3 miles; Sunday - 2 miles

Moving forward I will not run on any consecutive days (except the 2 miler on Sunday, which is a cool down from Saturday's long run).  The only reason I did Friday and Saturday this week was because I needed to fit in 2 weekly runs.

So overall, this week was pretty good.  I took my pace down, and wouldn't you know, it wasn't that difficult to run.  My body didn't hurt too much and my cardio was fine.  My major issue on the long run was some serious chaffing right below where my shorts hit on my legs.  (It's kind of a weird place because it's low-ish on my thigh, in a place where my thighs don't rub together - but I guess near the end of the run my stride got a little lazy/weird and made them rub together??)

All runs except for the 5-miler were on a treadmill.  I know - treadmill running isn't the same as outside, but I did them all while Bates was napping, so I think I need to take what time I can get.  I'm excited for this week though, because we're finally getting our jogging stroller!  My sister-in-law said awhile ago we could have hers, but this is the first chance for us to get it (ie, my in-laws drove up to Chicago to visit her and are bringing it back with them).

Question of the week for my runner friends: what are your favorite ways to cross train when training for a big running event?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's Been Awhile

How embarrassing to have a blog post about poop as the only thing people see on your blog for a few weeks.  Oops.  Life has been a little crazy.

I feel like I'm in this weird place in motherhood where we can survive - even thrive - day to day.  We have a nice routine, Bates and I play a lot, life is good.  But I feel like I'm struggling to get beyond that. Basically it feels like we just get by everyday; and then when I go to bed at night, there are tons of things out in space that I "need to do."  (Keeping a clean house is one of the major things that has fallen out of priority - and you all know how an untidy house upsets me.)

But also, blogging has been one of those things.  I want to do it.  I have stuff to post.  I just don't know when to sit down and write (other than after Bates goes to bed, but by then, all I want to do is vegetate on the couch).

Anyway - lots of happenings in our area.  A small sampling:

1) We spent Labor Day weekend in St. Louis - fun times.  Lots of laziness.

2) Bates has started attending (sometimes) his 3-day/week daycare from 9am-3pm.  I started to get teary the first time I dropped him off, but after that it's been ok.

3) After attending daycare twice (TWICE!) he got his first case of the sniffles.  Which turned into his first cold.  Which turned into his first ear infection.  Thumbs down.  It sucks having a sick baby.

4) Bates got his first tooth!  It's the bottom one and hasn't completely sprouted up yet, but it broke the surface.  The one next to it should break through soon - maybe tomorrow?  (Note: the ear infection and tooth happened at about the same time - so we've had some excruciating awful horrible sleepless nights in our house.)

5) We're in major "Operation: Fatten Bates" mode at our house.  At his 6-month check up, his weight had dropped from the 30th percentile to the 7th!  So we're eating lots of food now and putting some oatmeal in his bottles of breastmilk to help with the spitting up.  In a week since his appointment, he's gained a pound!  So I hope we're on the up.

6) In the same week he got his first ear infection, I got my first (and hopefully only) case of mastitis.  It's an infection women can get from breastfeeding and it wasn't pretty.  I sort of thought I was beyond getting it (since I've been doing this for six months!), but I was wrong, apparently.

Anyway - that's a quick overview.  I'm hoping to do a 6-month old post on Bates.  And posts on other random tidbits.  But the weather here is absolutely gorgeous today - so if you'll excuse me, we're going to hit the zoo when the babe (and husband) get up from naps.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Poopity Doopity Doo

I'm not trying to be super gross or anything - but can someone tell me: are poop blowouts a thing?  A phase kids go through?

Again - not to be too gross - but it seems like every day for the past couple of weeks I've had Bates in the shower at least once a day cleaning off blown-out poop.  It's starting to get a little old a freaking lot old.  Sometimes it blows out down the leg; and sometimes it blows out the back.  It's starting to make me nervous to leave the house!  On Monday, I went to take him out of the car at the grocery store and he had poop leaking down his leg!  I had to turn around and drive back home.

According to the size charts (and the fact that he's pretty skinny), I don't think he needs to size up yet.  (We've been wearing Pampers Swaddlers in a size 2, which are listed for 12-18 pounds [he's 15 pounds], and the next size up [2-3] is for 14-22 pounds.)  I also feel pretty confident that I'm putting the diaper on correctly, since blowouts weren't a problem before.  In fact, blowouts weren't even a consistent problem when we had to use prune juice when he hadn't gone in a few days.

Should I maybe try a different brand of diaper?  Does anyone have a favorite?  Any other ideas??

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Foods!

Before Bates was even born, I was excited about the prospect of giving him food food (aside from all. the. breastmilk.) when the time came.  But I assumed I would exclusively breastfeed for 6 months before even thinking about anything else.

Well, then there was reality: at 4 months, this kid wanted to eat!  He was obsessed with our food and the act of eating.  He'd grab at our utensils, plates, and food itself.  He would stare as food went from the plate into our mouths.

Our doctor had given us the go-ahead to feed him rice cereal at 4 months if we wanted to; so after a week or so of practice with the spoon, we decided to go for it.  (I think we were also secretly hoping it would help him sleep better at night.  Spoiler alert: it didn't.)

The very first time we fed him (rice cereal + breastmilk), it was pretty funny.  He was totally ready for it:
Was all on board with the spoon:
And then promptly spit out every spoonful:
By the very end of the first feeding, he started to get the hang of it.  The second night we tried, he actually got some food in his belly.  And by the third, he had it down.

The rice cereal, unfortunately, "backed things up" a little, if you know what I mean.  So for a week or so we gave him a tiny bit of prune juice to try to remedy it.  We then decided to go ahead and switch to oatmeal cereal.  And while he still needed prunes occasionally, this was much better than the rice.

But of late has been the really fun stuff: real food!  The first puree we tried was carrots.  He loved them.  The second was sweet potatoes.  Loved those more!  Then squash.  Loved it!  I began to think he would eat anything; I imagined our luck as parents - the kid who eats everything!

Yesterday we tried peas.  He wanted no part of it, ha.  Which, to be fair, as a fan of peas myself, I thought the baby food ones smelled and tasted nasty.  Maybe if I puree my own he'll like them more?

I've been buying little jars of organic baby food for the moment, so I can get an idea of what he likes.  Then I plan to make my own purees and freeze them in ice cube trays.  I'm so excited to make fun mixtures of different veg and fruits!

Any baby food makers out there?  Any tips or tricks?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our Sleeping Baby - Hallelujah!

You guys read about the sleeping troubles at our house a few weeks ago.  Well - here I am - happy to report that baby boy is: a) sleeping in his own room for naps and nighttime, b) putting himself to sleep in his crib with minimal or no tears, and c) sleeping either all night (roughly 7pm to 6/7am) or waking up once to eat.  And mom is: a) happy and b) well rested.

The day Bates and I left St. Louis was his 5 month birthday.  And essentially the whole time we were there, he slept like crap.  (Not that I was magically expecting him to sleep well or anything, but just as a point of reference, he was not in any way sleeping well.)  So when we got back, I referred to one of the three books I'd read on sleep, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.  (I also read The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The Mom's On Call Guide To Basic Baby Care.  I like HSHHC the best because a) it was the only one written by a doctor and b) I liked the scientific approach to the biology of a baby's sleep.)  The author, Dr. Weissbluth, basically breaks down a child's sleep patterns according to age.

In my mind, I was sort of waiting for the 6-month mark to try any more sleep training.  But I was surprised to see that Dr. Weissbluth biologically grouped 3-4 month olds together, and then 5-9 month olds.  Out of sleep deprivation and straight-up hope, we decided to see if the month that had passed since our last attempt was enough for Bates to be ready.

We first tried putting him down without rocking him to sleep for his morning nap on a Saturday.  He cried for 50 minutes!  Fifty!  But then fell asleep.  For the afternoon nap, he cried for 20.  We were making progress!  When we put him down for the nighttime, he cried for about 15.  Then he woke up at 10:30 and sobbed hysterically.

This was the hardest part of the whole thing because this was usually when I would go and console him back to sleep.  Jonathan and I sat in the family room listening to him while I cried and Jonathan started to lose resolve, saying "maybe I'll just go in there for a second to comfort him and then slip out."  But the book said if you really wanted to be aggressive about solving sleep problems, you needed to stand firm.  In fact, there was a little mantra in the book you were supposed to read out loud if you needed reminding.  Through tears, I read it, something like: "My baby is crying because he loves me and wants to spend time with me.  But I love my baby so much and since I know how important sleep is, I'm going to let him sleep."  The book said if you go comfort your crying baby after X amount of time, you're basically teaching him to cry for said amount of time before you'll go to him.

So Bates cried until 11.  Half an hour.  And then.....and then....

HE SLEPT UNTIL 7:15 THE NEXT DAY!

I woke up around 4am, I think, and was like, "he's dead!"  I ran into his room.  But nope - not dead - just sleeping.  He hadn't slept that long in maybe 7 weeks?

So that night confirmed for us that he was ready.  Ready to be in his own room, learn to put himself to sleep, and ready to comfort himself back to sleep if/when he wakes up in the night.

There have definitely been some nights when he wakes up and cries for a little bit, but overall, we're in a great place!  I can't tell you how nice it is to be well rested!  I'm also so glad we didn't push it at 4 months, when he clearly wasn't ready.  I know there will be more sleep "regressions" as the months go by, but I at least feel like he's learned some valuable sleeping "tools" that he can use.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hovawart

Olympics are over.  My life can pick back up again.  Seriously - does anyone else feel like this?  It seems like I've done nothing in my free time for the past two weeks but watch Olympics.  But whatev - go USA!

So this past weekend in Memphis was in-cred-i-ble in terms of weather.  We've had the typical hot, nasty summer, but thanks to an awesome cool-wave, temps this weekend topped out around 90 (which is straight-up arctic compared to 105).  So on Saturday, we decided to take Bates to the park about a mile-ish from our house.  (We wanted to see if he would be into the baby swing.  It was decent for him, but there wasn't really a way we could put him in it without the sun shining in his face, so that made him like it less I think.)

More exciting than the baby swing, though, was our walk down to the park.  We passed a house that had a couple kids playing in the front yard and a dog tied up on a long leash.  As we approached, per normal, the dog came running over to greet Hank.  As he did, the kids called out, "don't worry, she won't hurt you" (not that I thought she would).  But anyway, as she ran over, I noticed she looked just like Hank!
This was sort of a weird thing, because I've never seen another dog who resembles him so much.  I said to the kids, "whoa - your dog looks just like mine!"  The kids' mom, then came out and was like, "oh my gosh, you have a Hovawart, too!"  She called her other dog out from the house and WOW - that one looked even more like Hankdog!

It turns out "Hovawart" is a breed and the woman found out her dogs were Hovawarts in almost the same way I was finding out about Hank (that is, a stranger mentioned it).  This woman's family happened to be in Albany NY last year when there was a national Hovawart convention, so they attended.  They became so smitten with the breed that they decided to adopt another one (the one who was running in the yard).

The dogs can be Hank's coloring, all black, or all blonde.  I'm sure he's not pure bred (because why on Earth would a rare German breed of dog be at a shelter in Memphis), but I've never seen another breed of dog he resembles so much.  (We thought all along he was half Gordon Setter - but he looks so much more like a Hovawart than GS it's crazy!)

Check it out:
http://www.thepetdirectory.us/Hovawart.htm
http://www.22dog.com/breeds/Hovawart.html

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympia!

I freaking love the Olympics!

That could be the end of the blog post, really.  I just love them!  We set up a favorites playlist on our tv so I can hit the favorite button and scroll through all the channels that are potentially showing events.  I've been watching them morning to night!  Love it!

I used to think I liked the Winter games better than the Summer - but now I think that has switched.  I love swimming and diving.  And other favorites (in no particular order): women's beach volleyball, tennis, USA soccer, women's gymnastics, various track & field events, rhythmic gymnastics, and USA men's basketball.  For the first time this year, I watched kayaking and enjoyed that.  And I must say, men's water polo is pretty impressive (in more ways than one [wink]).  I'm also hoping to catch some synchronized swimming at some point.

But I'll watch any event - these are just some of my favorites.  We even watched women's judo that other day.  Whatev!  Go USA!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ready To Run!

I couldn't resist a Dixie Chicks song as the title of this post.  But it might be more appropriately titled "Will I Be Ready To Run??"

What am I running, you might ask?  Well - Jonathan and I signed up to run the Memphis half marathon in December!

I know so many of my friends run full-length marathons all the time and have run multiple halfs - but for Jonathan and I, this is big!  Neither of us has run any race longer than 4 or 5 miles.  The most I've ever run in my life is 10 miles.  And actually, since the beginning of the second trimester of my pregnancy, I haven't run more than 2.5 consecutive miles.  (Hence the big question: Will I be ready to run??)

I'm not that worried...yet.  The reason I've only run 2.5 consecutive miles isn't because of cardiovascular endurance, it's because my body just isn't back into running shape yet and I want to take it slow to avoid injury.  I'm worried about my knees and my hips (which have been troublesome in the past), and I'm a little worried about my back (which is now constantly contorting as I hold a baby, carry his heavy carseat, and lean over the bassinet from my bed [I need to quit doing that]).  So I'm taking it slow.

But yeah - we're excited!  Stay tuned for more training updates!  (Also - does anyone have a good training plan they could pass along to me??)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Heinz With Balsamic

As the so-called "Queen," I think it's my duty to be in the know about what's happening in the world of ketchup.  So when I saw this guy at the store the other day, I picked up a bottle for a taste test!

Fun fact: I saw an article last Fall about this ketchup.  Heinz was doing a promotion through its facebook page where if you were a fan of the company you could pre-order before it hit store shelves.  Since I prefer Hunts to Heinz, I didn't participate in the promotion because I didn't want my page to say, "Jackie became a fan of Heinz."  How's that for product loyalty, Hunts?

Anyway, they are promoting this balsamic vinegar ketchup as a more mature ketchup that would hold up to bigger foods (like meats).

The first thing you notice about it is the color.  It's a dark brownish-red - very similar to bbq sauce.  And the smell is different than normal ketchup; it's a little bit smokey.

I tasted this ketchup vs. normal Hunts first just on their own.  Then I did a taste test with eggs on an English muffin (one half of the muff got an egg and Hunts and the other an egg and balsamic Heinz).

Tasting the products side by side, without any food, really showcased how different the balsamic Heinz is.  It's a bit sweeter than normal ketchup (although I think Heinz is sweeter than Hunts in general, so that might have contributed).  And it tastes more grown up, I'd say.  Maybe it's because we have the childhood associations with the flavor of normal ketchup?  But this one is more complex because it has a bit of smokiness to it.  The combo of sweet and smokey is appealing.

Once I did my egg experiment, though, the normal ketchup won hands down.  Maybe eggs were the wrong food to sample with?  But the balsamic was not good with them.  It was lacking the sharp vinegar taste that goes so well with an egg.  In fact, the smokiness didn't work at all.  It reminded me of bbq sauce in this setting (and bbq sauce on an egg sounds nasty).

I can see why they would suggest pairing with meats.  Even though I don't eat meats, I can imagine the ketchup being really nice on a burger or steak (what - was I the only person who put ketchup on a steak back when I ate meat??).  It would almost be similar to steak sauce, but yummier (because I think steak sauce is kind of gross).

Does Heinz still make Heinz 57?  If not, I wonder if it's hoping this will replace that?

Has anyone else tried it?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sleeping Thank You!

Thanks, guys, for the lovely blog comments and emails responding to my sleep post!  I appreciate all the input!

I think my biggest takeaway is: CHILL OUT.  Ha.  You guys know me - I don't relax very well.  And I love to research the crap out of stuff going on in my life.  This whole parenting thing sort of throws those two tendencies for a loop because a lot of times, I just need to chill out and let Bates do his thing. As much as it bothers my control freak, sometimes he needs to be the one showing me what he needs.

The night I wrote that blog post (when I was realllllly sleep deprived), we put him down in his crib at 8:30.  He was up at 9, 11, and 11:30 when I finally said, "F it - I'm not doing this all night" and moved him back into the bassinet in our room.  He then slept until 3:40 (ie, the longest single stretch I had slept in a LONG time), I fed him, and he went back down until 7am.  The next night, we started him in the bassinet in our room and he only woke up once to eat, basically sleeping from 8pm-7am.  Hallelujah!

One thing that sort of surprised me I heard from everyone was how common the "4-month sleep regression" is.  I found a fascinating website (that led me to a fascinating book) that says we use the term "sleep regression" to sort of acknowledge that it's a situation most babies go through at certain times.  But the term "regression" is misleading because it suggests babies' sleep progresses in a linear way (ie, they gradually start sleeping longer and longer as they get older and older until they sleep through the night: the end).  This just isn't true.

And it said how when babies suddenly start sleeping worse than they had been, we know they're going through certain phases (so when they wake up drooling and grabbing their ears, we know they're teething; when they wake up in their crib rocking back and forth on all fours, we know they're learning to crawl).  Well, it said cognitively, babies also go through different "spurts" as well, but we just can't see and identify these spurts like the other ones that are well known milestones in a kid's life.

The book I bought on my Kindle, The Wonder Weeks, describes the major cognitive milestones of the first 55 weeks of a kid's life.  The two authors (researchers) did 30 years of research observing children from birth to 55 weeks.  They say a child goes through major cognitive growth at: 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 weeks.  In the time leading up to these "wonder weeks," you can expect fussier behavior, more clinginess, poor eating, and poor sleep (ie, sleep "regressions").  The book devotes a chapter to each wonder week and describes: when you can expect to see the behavior that leads up to the week; which cognitive milestone will be taking place; things you can do/games you can play to encourage it; and feelings you might have as the parent while you're child is learning this new thing.  (Very cool book & worth checking out!)


Wouldn't you know - Bates turned 19 weeks old today.  And wouldn't you know, the book said you can expect the period leading up to the 19-week milestone to start around 15 weeks.  Bates started sleeping poorly 3 days before he turned 15 weeks (I remember because the first bad night of sleep happened the night before my mom got in town for his baptism).


It seems applicable in this situation - I'm anxious to see if it happens again with the next milestone!  (Or if the book is just a load of crap.)


But anyway - thanks for all your responses to the original blog post!  When we're ready to try again with crying it out and him in his own room, I'm definitely going to use some of your tips!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mom Friends: I Need Advice!

Ok friends with kids older than me - I need to pick your brains a little bit about everyone's favorite topic: sleep!

I realize I'm sort of opening the wormhole with this one (since everyone has their own opinion on "the best" way to get your kid to sleep).  But honestly - I just need some opinions and/or advice from people who are a few months (or years) ahead of us on parenting (ie, people who know what a 4 month old looks like vs. a 6 month old vs. a 12 month old, etc.).
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Here begins the longest blog post in the World...

Some back story:
We co-slept since the day we brought him home from the hospital.  He was in a bassinet pressed against our bed.  I don't want to dwell too much on how he slept as an early baby (since, from everything I've read, sleep habits are constantly changing as they get older), instead I want you all to understand our method so you can hopefully offer some insight.  (But for the record, he was a good sleeper and was not colicky.)

So The Method has been: rock him until he's completely asleep before putting him in the bassinet.  Any time he fusses/cries in the night (and it's not hunger), I immediately offer him comfort (shhhhhing, putting my hand on his tummy, giving him a paci) until he calms down.  This happens a minimum of twice a night, and sometimes as many as five times a night.  (Note: the fussing has never got so bad that I need to do something other than these things [ie, I almost never have to get out of bed to pick him up or rock him or anything.])  He eats once in the night - after 3am - but varying depending on the day.  And around 6 or 7am, he wakes up and, fussing or not, I bring him into our bed where he falls asleep until we get up.  These nights are roughly 8pm to 8am.

We have a solid bedtime routine that doesn't change.  And he naps three times during the day (he's one of those kids where "sleep encourages sleep" and I find if his naps are messed up or short, he definitely sleeps worse at night).
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So we decided when he turned 4 months old we would: a) move him into his nursery, and b) teach him to self-soothe by "crying it out."  The doctor suggested we do both of these at the same time.

Our New Method (as of Friday) has been: keep the same bedtime routine (bath, bottle, book, and rocking), except rocking only until he's drowsy and then putting him in his crib.  We then follow the "10 minute rule" - that is, we let him "cry it out" for 10 minutes before we go in and offer comfort.  If he calms down for a second, we re-start the 10 minute timer.  The 10 minute rule then also applies in the middle of the night when he wakes up fussing (not hungry).

Here's how it has gone with putting him down awake:

Friday Night: cried and cried and cried (and cried!) when we put him down.  This was expected.
Saturday Night: fell asleep right after feeding, so basically got put in his bed asleep.  Whoops.
Sunday Night: did fine - was awake when we put him in, but then fell asleep not too long afterwards.
Monday Night: same deal as Sunday (awesome!).
Tuesday Night: played in bed for awhile, started fussing, started crying, turned into hysterics, turned into hysterics that made him spit up a ton of food, didn't fall asleep until 9:30 after I rocked him and then stood over the crib holding his hand.  Cry-it-out fail.
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Aside from the initial putting him to sleep, though, what really frustrates me about his sleeping is the middle-of-the-night waking!  He's been waking up a lot!  And now that he's in his own room, I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place: I know if I go in right when he wakes up and soothe him, he'll go back to sleep without much fuss.  Doing this, though, isn't helping at all with the self soothing.  On the other hand, if I don't go in right away (ie, follow the 10 minute rule), I am (I guess?) helping him learn to self soothe.  Buuuuut then he will not go right back to sleep after I come in.  In fact, a lot of times, 10 minutes has been enough time for the fussing to severely escalate into uncontrollable crying.  A couple nights ago he was so fired up at 1am I had to feed him!  It was the only thing that would calm him down (both Jonathan and I took turns trying to calm him).

And you guys - these nighttime wakings are KILLING ME!  When he was in our room, the whole night would feel sort of hazy the next day - like, I knew I had been up a couple times soothing him, but since all I had to do was reach over the bed, I never really woke up.  Whereas now that I have to get out of bed to do anything (thus waking myself up), I'm exhausted because I think, quite literally, I'm only sleeping 4-5 broken up hours a night (which is not enough for me - I need sleep; actually, I need solid blocks of sleep - this hour here, hour there thing isn't working).
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So questions:
1) I get that self-soothing is important.  And I get that "crying it out" is just that.  But where do you draw the line with the crying?  I'm thinking crying so much you vomit isn't really helping anything...  (And if you let your kid cry until he fell asleep - what on Earth did you do to occupy yourself to keep from going in and comforting him??)

2) We maybe should have let him "cry it out" sooner than 4 months - but since we didn't - do you think we should let him learn to self soothe asap to avoid wasting any more time?  Or do you think a, say 6-month old is better equipped to self soothe than a 4-month old (and we should therefore wait)?  How old were your kids when you decided they could self-soothe?  Did any of you try to let them self soothe, realize it wasn't working, and wait a month or so?  Or does it always eventually work, it just needs time?

3) Do most kids wake up multiple times in the night?  Or when others say their kid "sleeps through the night" do they literally mean getting in bed at 8 and not peeping again until 8 the next morning?

4) How long did it take for your kids to adjust to new routines?  I've read books that say it should only take 3 days for a new routine to stick - and other books say a week - and others say 2 weeks.  What did it look like in your experience?

5) What are your thoughts about the middle-of-the-night Catch 22 (that is, if I immediately respond to his fussing, he'll go right back to sleep vs. the 10 minute rule where the crying escalates so much he's then wide awake, but on one hand I'm helping him learn to self soothe vs. continuing to reinforce that he needs me to fall asleep)?

6) Did any of your have a really successful way to either teach your kid to self soothe OR teach your kid to sleep the night that you think I should try?

7) Sort of unrelated, but Bates only wants to sleep on his tummy.  We put him "back to sleep" and he immediately rolls over.  The doctor says it's ok.  But the other night our fancy-schmancy monitor that has a motion detector (ie tells you if they aren't moving [breathing] after 20 seconds and sounds an alarm) went off like 5 times.  And every time I went in there he was on his tummy, face-down in the mattress.  I'm now out of my mind scared of SIDS - that he's going to be face down in the mattress and breath too much CO2, etc.  Anyone else have a tummy sleeper?  Was he often face-down to the mattress?  Did it freak you out??

Any insight is appreciated!  I talked to his doctor about the whole thing before we did the big switch-a-roo to the nursery and she noted that since he doesn't know how to self soothe, he needs to learn.  But she also said, "I think, given how well he's been sleeping, it won't be a big deal or a hard transition."  Hmm.  Maybe I just need to give it more time?  It's only been 5 nights.  Will all this be better in a week or so?

Monday, July 2, 2012

4 Months Old!

Four Month Stats
Length: 25.5 inches - 86%
Weight: 13 lbs, 7.5 ozs - 31%
Head Circ.: 41 cm - 42%

Oh my sweet baby boy - you are four months old!  One third of a year!  You're officially out of the "fourth trimester;" and while I'm not 100% sure what that's supposed to signify, I'm assuming it means you're a big boy now!

And it's true, in a lot of ways, you are a big boy.

Physically:
You've been strong since day one (literally, your first day of life you were able to hold your neck up a little bit).  And now that you're four months old, you can do a lot more stuff physically.  You love to stand on our laps while we hold you under your armpits.  You can roll from tummy to back and back to tummy, and frankly, you're giving mommy a heart attack every night by rolling from back to tummy so you can sleep on your stomach.  (When you're not sleeping on your stomach, you like to sleep on your side in a little "L" shaped position that's positively adorable.)  And finally, you're starting (a teeny, tiny bit) to scoot when placed on your tummy; you definitely don't have the arm/leg movements figured out that suggest you'll be crawling tomorrow or any time soon, but you'll stick your bum into the air (holding it up by your legs) and then move your arms, so that, slooooowly but surely, you can get from one side of a blanket to the other.

Coordination:
Watching you grow up and learn new "tricks" every week has been so interesting from my perspective.  It's crazy how one day you won't do something, and then the next day, all of a sudden you'll have figured out this new thing that you start doing all the time.  In the past month or so, you discovered your hands.  It started with you clasping them together.  Then they went straight for your mouth (which is where they're likely found these days).  But you've also learned how to grab/bat at things and, depending on the thing, you've learned how to put it in your mouth.  As of a few days ago, you can now also grab the paci out of your mouth in a deliberate motion (not just have your hand get stuck on it and by default pull it out).  Aside from your hands, you are super alert/aware of what's going on and concentrate your eyes on wherever the action is.

You're basically mommy's little buddy during the day.  We do lots of fun stuff!  We play with toys (your favorite being ones with rattles [including a stuffed giraffe who has a rattle in his head], Sophie the Giraffe, and other little plastic baby toys that make different noises).  We read a lot of books (your favorites: Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, On The Night You Were Born, The Sad Mad Glad Baby, Llama Llama Red Pajama, and I Love You Stinky Face; your least favorite: Goodnight Moon [no clue why - but you cry when we try to read it to you]).  We swing a lot on the front porch swing; sing songs; dance around; play peek-a-boo; play in your exersaucer; and just generally have a good time.  The itsy-bitsy spider:

Up until 4 days ago, you slept in a bassinet in mommy/daddy's room.  You've been an awesome sleeper pretty much all of your life until a couple weeks ago.  We have no clue what was going on, but there was a major sleep regression on your part (which included multiple, screaming/crying night wakings).  After talking to the doctor at your 4-month check up, we decided to transition you into your big boy crib in the nursery and work on teaching you to "self soothe" yourself to sleep (ie, crying it out a little bit).  Mommy cried the first night you were in the nursery.  Not so much because you were crying yourself to sleep (which was pretty sad), but because I was sad to have you out of our room.  Every morning around 5 or 6 am, I would bring you into bed with me and we would snooze together until we woke up for the day.  I thought this would end with the nursery transition, but actually, I've still brought you in every morning (it just takes a little extra movement on my part)!  I love seeing your little smile brighten up when I finally open my eyes and our faces are inches away from each other.  (And seriously, what is cuter than a kid in footed jammies with a big bear on them??)

And your little smile - I should mention - is so abundant!  You bring joy to anyone who gets to hang out with you.  You have a really happy disposition that pretty much only gets interrupted when you're tired or hungry (and most nights after 7pm...it's the "witching hour").

You aren't on a schedule, but we have a routine.  You basically take 3 naps a day, have 5, 5-oz bottles of breastmilk during the day (mommy's still pumping strong!), and a 3-oz bottle of milk if you wake up in the middle of the night.  We've done rice cereal a couple times - but I'm going to blog more on that later.  We do eat-play-sleep, so it ends up being about 2 hours of play with one hour of sleep all day long.

All of these things are important, for sure - but most important is how much joy you bring to your mommy and daddy's lives!  I don't exactly forget what our life was like before you came along, but I have to say, it's hard to imagine how we lived without you.  You bring so much fullness - such completeness - that it's hard to remember living without that.  We can't wait to watch you continue to grow!